We live in an amazing world. One of fast evolving and ever-changing technology. Technology is not only driving innovation in expected fields like science and engineering but is also changing how today’s (and tomorrow’s) consumers think and behave. The rapid explosion, acceptance, and ultimately, dependence on digital devices, social media, and instant messaging has helped fuel a general consumer intolerance for waiting…waiting in lines…waiting for downloads…waiting for deliveries. There is little to no patience for the standard selling cycle and traditional commerce today…we want what we want, when we want it, and we want it now.
Consider the rise of Amazon from its once humble beginnings as a rare book purveyor that could take months to track down and acquire that special first edition, to the now mighty provider of guaranteed next day delivery. Actually, do you need it today? No problem. In fact, Amazon Prime members in 29 US cities can get free same day delivery on everything from groceries to garden tools. Amazon’s accelerated delivery options are made possible by leveraging multiple national carriers (USPS, UPS, FedEx), local couriers on foot, bike & car, and someday soon, Amazon’s oft discussed fleet of drones. Soon, competitors including Walmart and Google are planning to test free same day delivery in major markets as well.
Another on-demand retail service growing in popularity is Instacart, a California based grocery delivery service embraced by major retailers like Kroger, Target, and Whole Foods. The idea here is that Instacart provides access to online shopping from a local grocery store, then a personal shopper goes to the store, acquires the items in your order, and delivers them to your door — all within 2 hours.
With the explosive growth of e-commerce, and unprecedented home delivery options now available to consumers, today’s products & brands must work that much harder as selection & purchase are frequently happening online versus in-store.
Society’s growing need for time saving solutions and instant gratification has also spilled over into food & drink. When it comes to dinner and cooking a sit-down meal at home, who has the time or patience for that? The solution is provided by a number of new meal-kit delivery services like Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, and Purple Carrot. Some deliver completely prepared meals, while others bring you the fresh ingredients and easy recipes, enabling you to whip up a healthy home cooked meal in 30 minutes or less. Either way, the time needed to plan and prepare a meal is drastically reduced, and the age-old question of “what’s for dinner?” now has an easy answer.
Time saving meal solutions aren’t just limited to the home front. While we don’t yet have the luxury of Marty McFly’s 2-second dehydrated pizza, if you have 180 seconds to spare, you can now have a hot & fresh full size pie from new pizza purveyors like PizzaFire or Blaze (their secret is using 800 degree “super-ovens”). On a related note, Domino’s Pizza is closing in on its new Project 3:10 goal…pizzas cooked (in 3 minutes) and delivered in 10 minutes flat.
But should everything be available or made with such speed? Most of us know that to make a truly fine Bourbon, you need time. Time to age the Bourbon slowly in oak barrels, and bring out its distinct flavor as it matures. But wait for it…there’s even a time saving solution for this storied practice. For those who simply can’t wait for the natural barrel aging process to work its magic, according to the folks at Whiskey Elements you can now “instantly age” a young (cheaper) bottle of whiskey, and simulate 3 years of aging (and flavor enhancement) in just 24 hours.
Coming full circle, Amazon is now in the mix with Netflix, Hulu, and Google (not a complete list by any means but these are the heavy hitters) as pioneers in how we consume entertainment. Video rentals. Yesterday’s news. DVDs? Nope…streaming content. Broadcast commercials? Thing of the past. With the almost endless variety of programming options available to the masses now, on demand consumption of movies and TV is fast becoming the norm, not the exception. “Binge watching” is a thing now, whether it’s taking in a full season of “Breaking Bad” in one sitting or the latest series on Netflix that “drops” its entire new season all at once.
Even those who haven’t yet “cut the cord” and still rely on broadcast television for their news and entertainment, still eschew traditional advertising by recording their programming on a DVR and fast forwarding past the ads.
So, where does this leave your brand and the uncertainty of traditional marketing? Marketers will need to think outside the box for new ways to communicate their messages and get their brands and products noticed. Watch for an increase in strategic product placements in on demand programming like Wild Turkey’s appearance in Netflix’s “Jessica Jones”. And, watch for more brands getting their products out quicker than ever before…even if it means having to tweak them and their packaging again after initial launch. Brands who take that extra 9 months to polish that last 20% will be beaten to launch by their competition.
Regardless of whether discussing a new brand conceived and launched in this fast-paced market, or a tried & true brand that has evolved to remain relevant, attention spans and consumer tolerance will likely continue to shrink for the foreseeable future. Brands that embrace this change, speed, and are willing to adapt alongside their consumers, will be better positioned for success. You and your brand can too, but you’d BETTER DO IT QUICK…